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Stress – The Impacts of Stress

1. The Physiology of Stress

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the physiology of stress, focusing in particular on: (i) recognising that a stressor takes the body out of its default state of homeostasis, requiring it to return to that state once the stressor has passed – a process Hans Selye coined as General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS); (ii) the two stress response systems being the fast sympathetic adrenomedullary system (SAM) and the slow hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis; (iii) the biological steps in each of these systems, the functional outcomes for the body, and how those outcomes tie into the stress response being referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response; (iv) the negative outcomes of chronic stress, including immune function suppression, increased blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels, arterial plaque build-up, and engagement with unhealthy behaviours e.g., smoking and overeating.


In this course, Dr Livia Tomova (University of Cambridge) explores the topic of stress. In the first lecture, we think about the physiological stress response, detailing the key hormones, organs and neurotransmitters involved in these complicated biological processes. In the second lecture, we look at sources of stress and the methods researchers have used to measure someone’s stress level or response. In the third lecture, we expand on this by outlining individual differences in people’s responses to stressful situations, focusing on the concepts of hardiness and personality types. Next, we describe four key methods for coping with stress: drug therapies, cognitive behavioural therapies, biofeedback, and social support. In the fifth and final lecture, we explore how stress can impact cognition, specifically memory processes.

Research project looking for 16-19-year-old males:


Dr Livia Tomova is a research associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, with an interest in how stress, loneliness and social isolation affect the brain and mind. Dr Tomova’s current research focuses on biological markers indicating vulnerability to the effects of isolation and loneliness in adolescents and young adults. Some of Dr Tomova’s recent publications include 'The effects of social deprivation on adolescent development and mental health' (2020) and 'Acute stress alters neural patterns of value representation for others' (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Tomova, L. (2021, December 03). Stress – The Impacts of Stress - The Physiology of Stress [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Tomova, L. "Stress – The Impacts of Stress – The Physiology of Stress." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Dec 2021,

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